Thursday, April 28, 2011

Featuring: Jane

Editors Note:  Jane is my aunt on my mom's side of the family.  She and I have always been buds since my debut on this planet back in 1975.  We were roommates in Germany as she lived with us for a few months of my very early childhood.  She has always been an educator and has a resume that would make most blush with the accomplishments of her career.  Maybe that is why she has always been such a "cool aunt" for me growing up. She's had so much exposure to other kids and other attitudes that nothing I ever said or did was much a surprise to her.  She was just always one of those adults that you could literally tell anything to and feel safe about it.  As we got together for this project and I interviewed her, the pieces of that puzzle came together even more as I saw her describe the teaching style that she's adopted over the years and shared a very specific story about a boy named Robert.  The following article is her own words and we also invite you to watch the video interview located at the bottom.  Enjoy!

Follow Me

This is one of Jesus’ commands to all believers. What we need to realize each day, is that “little eyes are watching us” and following our example, too. It behooves us then, to live a good life. I’d like to share with you what I have done to this end.

I have always been very clear about my mission in life. And I chose the teaching profession for my vehicle in reaching that goal. Though, as a child, I used to dream of living in a foreign country to do traditional missionary work with heathens who did not know Christ, I found the public school setting to be the perfect environment for shining my light and offering the love and forgiveness of Christ. Not that the students were ignorant about the Son of God, rather, the public school setting is for most teenagers the most challenging place for them to remember “who they are and whose they are”.

Although my curricular subjects were biology, psychology, sociology and teen leadership, my main focus was always to create a safe place for my students. A caring, yet firm, approach like mine has been proven by research to be the most effective one. In my classroom, I protected the weak from bullies (and the other “nay sayers” in their lives). And I protected the bullies from themselves. You show me a bully and I’ll show you someone who does not respect or love themselves. Instead, they feel trapped in the “bad guy” role and need help changing their label.

My number one rule was, “No put-downs”. The first level consequence for breaking this rule was to give the person two compliments. Rule number two was “Give your best effort”. I told my students, look smart, act smart and one day you will be smart. Whenever a student said, “I’m sorry” after disrupting the lesson, my response was, “Show me”. It took some of them longer than others to understand what I was saying, “Show me you are sorry by not doing it again”. So here is how it went after some of them had caught on. If a student decided to be cute and give a ridiculous answer to one of my questions, one of the other students would likely say, “She wants us to show our intelligence”. If they put someone down, they were met with, “We don’t do that in here. Give him/her 2 compliments”. And if they were twice redirected from a disruptive behavior, someone would likely beat me to the punch and say, “She said to show her you are sorry”. They “had my back” because they knew I had theirs.

I’d like to tell you the story of one of my students to demonstrate my mission...

It was a sad day when Robert and I had to say good-bye at the end of the year. I think of him often and wonder what he is doing these days. He is in his mid-twenties by now. I hope and pray that he carried the teen leadership experience with him and that he found someone else to help him finish removing his label. Ideally, he is showing others a better way to live, somewhere out there.

So, follow Christ and know that others are following you, no matter where you go. And don’t forget, little eyes are watching.


tonymation said...

Everyone needs a Jane in their lives. I hope to see you soon!

sonofdavid said...

That is a touching story Jane. I know you had a great impact on so many young people's lives. Thanks for giving so much, and teaching us to do the same.

Melissa said...

Wow! Imagine if all teachers (and "grown-ups") had the strength and courage to demand their students respect one another what a better world this would be. Much respect and thanks for all that you have done.

Susie Bibb said...

Beautiful story...thank you so much for sharing, Jane.